Why Can’t We Get Healthy for a Change?

28 Sep

There is a heroine epidemic in my town and in the county where I live in New Jersey.

More than 80 people have died from drug overdoses since the beginning of the year and many of those deaths have come as a result of heroine use.

Why heroine? Well, according to the story that I read it offers a bigger bang for the buck. In other words you can get higher with less heroine than with more of something else so in the long run (if you have a long run) you can save money. And saving money is as important in drug use it seems as it is important in other facets of our society.

Anyway,  the heroin “epidemic” has compelled lawmakers in my state to propose legislation that would attempt to curtail the local drug trade by basically…making the penalties for selling heroine…tougher. Which will of course mean that more drug dealers and users will probably be going to jail…and the problem will undoubtedly just shift to another drug that comes along to take its place.

More than likely there is a drug epidemic in your, town, county, state too, but probably just with a different drug. People like to take drugs, or just can’t seem to help themselves…and the money that can be made selling them makes the drug trade just too lucrative for them to be scared away from by the penalty of incarceration.

The combinations of desire, addiction, greed and avarice are so powerful and overwhelming among humans that I sometimes wonder why I have never succumbed to the forces of drug addiction or dealing. Is it because I am a superior human being? Or is it just because I was never poor enough or addicted enough to need to get involved with drugs?

Is it something I lack, rather than something I have?

I humbly ask this question only because nothing that we have done so far in the history of the drug war has worked as far as getting people to stop using or stop selling drugs to one another and yet rather than come up with new ideas or approaches to the problem we continue to try and fight “the war” in the same old way.

Is this just another side effect of drug addiction? There is a lot of money to be made in law enforcement and in the penal system and a lot of reputations to be built in politics and law making and the judicial system on the backs of America’s drug addicts and sellers. Would large portions of our economy crumble without an illicit and illegal drug trade?

And Despite tough anti-drug laws, and 2.2 million prisoners in our jails, a new survey by The World Health Organization shows that the U.S. has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world…And that drug use  is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with tough illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones,

So what gives? Why do we continue to pursue the same old policies when it comes to drugs and drug use in America? They don’t work. They have never worked. There is absolutely no reason to believe that they ever will.

Meanwhile, members of the United States Congress and many others are doing their best to block the administration of the Affordable Healthcare Act because they say…before even giving the new policy a chance to work…that it will fail and cost too much money.

With over 1 trillion dollars spent on the war on drugs in the last 40 years and with state and federal agencies continuing to spend over 30 billion dollars per year on what has proven time and time again to be a failed policy…is it really any wonder why we can’t find any money to pay for healthcare in this country and why certain groups want to make sure that we never do?

Simply put, and just by examining the data, the answer is an easy one.

We’re getting sicker, rather than healthier in America, because right now… that is our policy!

6 Responses to “Why Can’t We Get Healthy for a Change?”

  1. barbarastanley September 28, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    The drug problem isn’t the biggest problem and it can’t be solved until the biggest problem is addressed. Divorce. Tear down the family, leave kids vulnerable to drug use, addiction occurs. Find the cure for divorce and you will have a cure for drug addiction.

    • A Voice September 28, 2013 at 6:56 am #

      I’m far less inclined to believe that divorce is the biggest problem, as drug issues have been seen the world over and well before divorce became an accepted societal norm. There is a lot more that I can say to this but, truly, there isn’t much point.

      Drugs are used for one of two primary reasons, to ease/avoid physical/emotional pain or to increase positive feelings. A good example of the former is alcohol and a good example of the latter is ecstasy. The latter issue cannot begin to really be addressed, however the former issue can. This involves a serious look at the environments that seem to nudge people to drug use, from groups as small as the family to as large as the country. The United States has a particular issue with incoherent standards and beliefs, something that Mr. Picone has pointed out time and time again and something that I often write about on my blog and in my poetry.

      Ultimately, drug use is a societal problem and can only be addressed when we look at just what it is about this particular society that seems to compel people toward unhealthy drug use. Why do we, the United States, suck so much? Broadly speaking, I believe it’s due to a lack of care. This means that from the top on down caring about others, treating others as though they are more than mere means, is demonstrably looked down upon and unrewarded. Until this particular issue is fixed we’re not likely to see a marked decrease in such measures to ease/avoid physical/emotional pain.

      Divorce isn’t a non-issue, but it plays only a small part and, reflecting this back up to what I said in the preceding paragraph, a lack of care is what leads to the issues culminating in divorce. This, of course, doesn’t begin to touch on the notion that there are divorces that are undeniably good things because demanding marriage be permanent can legitimately lead to people having less love in their lives than more.

    • hbw October 5, 2013 at 9:53 am #

      It depends – whilst it’s true that an unstable family background can give rise to drug abuse (especially if the children end up in the care system), drug abuse (especially alcohol) can also be a factor in the breakdown of some marriages.

      People become drug users and abusers for a whole range of social and emotional reasons – there may even be physical factors that make some people more prone to addiction than others. A simplistic correlation between divorce and drug abuse simply doesn’t hold up and does a disservice to the many divorced parents who still manage to raise decent well-balanced children.

      • barbarastanley October 7, 2013 at 9:41 am #

        Sorry, I beg to differ. Those host of emotional reasons go back to divorce. Children of divorce, the majority, have low self-esteem, one of the biggest reasons for drug abuse. Yes, some are more prone to addiction, but one must first make the choice to do drugs in order for the propensity for addiction to manifest. Yes, a few dedicated people do raise strong children by themselves plus family and friends to help. They are to be applauded. The truth behind most cases of divorce is selfishness. Most adults have convinced themselves that they should be happy no matter what the cost to innocent children. They ask and answer this question, “God would want me to be happy, wouldn’t He?” Yes He does, but he wants us to be happy because we obeyed him and our parents and waited for marriage to the person who shares our religious beliefs. God doesn’t make us unhappy, nor does he want us to be happy at the expense of others.

  2. Anne September 28, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    The war on drugs has been lost in part because it makes enemies of our family members, neighbours, and friends.

    There is some evidence that treating drug abuse as a public health issue would be more successful than treating it as a crime. I’d like to see more efforts in that direction, if only to gather more data.

  3. crossinh September 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Heroin use is increasing as laws tighten down on access to opioids. The problem doesn’t go away by simply taking a certain drug off the market. I think American drug abuse is directly linked to increasing inequality in our country.

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